There was once a farmer who did something unusual. The leaf hoppers (cousin to the cicada), had eaten holes in much of the crop, as they are want to do. Instead of tossing it out, the farmer followed through with making an oolong of the half destroyed crop. To everyone’s surprise, the tea was fantastic, and the farmer went home bragging about how their tea had won such acclaim and such a high price.
Ever since that time, now 85 years ago, not only has this tea become a staple, but the method of creating tea from leafhopper-chewed crops has expanded to other varietals, regions, and crafting styles. The one I’m sending you today is pretty much the old-school standard. A heavily fermented (think close to black tea) oolong that is a joy to drink.
The most characteristic flavor and fragrance is that of honey. You can really taste it in this particular Braggart’s Tea as it opens up. That flavor is the result of the leafhoppers, and is actually a defense mechanism of the plant, creating an enzyme that attracts the predators of the leafhoppers (ohhhhhhhh…. that is cool).
In general this tea is somewhat of a gamble for the famer, as you are letting pests destroy part of you crop, and if the leaves are too big and strong, it doesn’t quite work. There are plenty of other variables already when trying to get a specific desirable outcome in tea, so this tea is extra tricky and thus naturally a bit scarce.